Letters

Compassion and Understanding Make Life Easier for the Disabled

I’m a disabled member of this community and I’ve had many not so great experiences in this town — a lot by service providers, due to my disability.

My family and even disabled friends and I have faced a lot of discrimination. It really makes me question why I wanted to live in this town to be honest. I have physical and mental/ emotional and cognitive disabilities so some of my disabilities are invisible. Most people look at me and assume I’m ok.

I’ve been yelled at by people (young and old) for using my accessible parking permit in town, and the amount of discrimination I’ve faced from service providers of businesses and at the local schools is astronomical. Sickening really. Even simple walking down the street using my Mobility device has garnered me ill comments and looks.

So I wanted to say this in hopes that maybe it may make some people reconsider their actions. I really wish people would be a little more patient and understanding. It isn’t easy nor is it fun being disabled. I know I’m not always an easy person to deal with either and for that I say to you, “I’m sorry.” I am trying my best.

Every day I am learning new things myself still unfortunately — even at my age. You see a “normal“ person but yet treat me not great because you hear “ODSP” (Ontario Disability Support Program).

But yet I’m disabled and it’s taken me many years to learn to accept myself. It’s taken me many years to learn to live with myself and manage being “my best self.” Most days it’s embarrassing, horrifically painful, and incredibly degrading … and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I know I’m not always the easiest person to deal with or the easiest to explain things to. Sometimes I need accommodations or it takes me longer to do things or understand what you deem a “simple concept.” My body and brain don’t work the same as yours and, trust me, your face and tone explain just how frustrating that is to you.

Once your words start matching I’ve fully got the point how much I’ve inconvenienced you and how much of a disgrace I am — or at least that’s how you are making me feel. I am doing the best I can. Patience and understanding go a long way.

Sometimes all it takes is a little rewording and care. I get it, I don’t always understand BUT it’s not always my fault. Maybe if people weren’t so quick to rush, demean, or be impatient, there wouldn’t be so much miscommunication.

It’s funny I hear so much about empathy and compassion and I am also so quick to give it myself, but as a disabled person I rarely ever see it in return.

Now frustration and judgement! That I’m used to. I’m sorry I am such a burden. I didn’t ask to be this way. Please try to reconsider how your actions, your tone, your facial expressions and your overall actions affect us. We may be disabled but we are people too.

— Name withheld on request —

~ Image by AbsolutVision from Pixabay

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